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Cape Town - The ANC’s alliance partner, Cosatu, has called for the nationalisaton of 10 key industries – and has lodged formal papers giving notice of a protected strike unless this demand is met.
The powerful federation of trade unions on Tuesday submitted a Section 77 Notice to Nedlac – where business, labour and government thrash out key employment issues.
The notice is a formal declaration that Cosatu intends to claim a protected strike on the matter, namely “The slow pace of socio-economic transformation in country”.
Accompanying the notice is a long list of specific demands.
Key among them is a demand that 10 sectors of the economy be nationalised.
Cosatu’s demands are the formal result of decisions taken at its 11th National Congress from September 16-19.
But the demands also come just four days before the ANC’s crucial Mangaung conference, and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has already publicly announced that important decisions will finally take place on the subject of “nationalisation”.
The sectors Cosatu is demanding be nationalised are: banking, mining, petrochemicals, forestry, cement, metals fabrication (especially steel), construction (to address infrastructure backlogs), pharmaceuticals and machinery and equipment telecommunications.
Cosatu said it wanted the state to identify “strategic industries and sectors through which it can influence the direction of the economy, in line with the framework of a genuinely new growth path which would direct us from a less extractive to a more productive and sustainable economy”.
Cosatu further demands a wide range of economic interventions. Among them are:
* A demand that the Reserve Bank abandon inflation targeting and start intervening in the foreign exchange markets.
* The prevention of “asset-stripping” of companies and prevention of such capital from leaving SA.
* Increased taxes for the “super-rich”
* More aggressive use of expropriation powers and the abolition of foreign ownership of land.
Cosatu’s demands are likely to be actively supported by those among the ANC’s 4 500 delegates at Mangaung who support or represent the unions.
Cosatu’s Patrick Craven told the Cape Argus on Wednesday that the federation hoped to have its demands addressed “as soon as possible”.
He said Cosatu was “definitely prepared to strike” in support of these demands, if such negotiations ended up failing.
Such as strike would be legal and protected, under the Labour Relations Act, and would fall under labour action in support of a “socio-economic issue”.
This was was recognised in the legislation as a legitimate issue over which workers could launch a legal strike, Craven said.
Mantashe said this week: “(T)he question of nationalisation of the mines will also… be tabled for deliberation (at Mangaung).”